Drying flowers for Decoration

Preserving flowers is a craft you can do at home using flowers from an arrangement that has special meaning or fresh cut flowers from your landscape or garden. Don't let the word craft scare you off, because the preserving process could not be easier!

There are many ways to preserve flowers; however, two of the easiest are air-drying and pressing. Air-drying is a process by which garden flowers are collected, tied together in loose bundles at the stem ends with rubber bands or pipe cleaners, and hung upside down in a warm, dry area. With good air circulation, flowers will take one to three weeks to completely dry.

A few things to keep in mind to keep the process simple is to avoid selecting flowers to air dry that are wet or moist from dew, always use a sharp knife or pruning shears to cut flowers and place fresh cut stems in water to prevent wilting while choosing other flowers. Also, it will make clean up faster if you remove all leaves from stems or branches before drying.

Once flowers are completely dry, they can be arranged by types and sizes and should be stored in airtight containers until you are ready to use them.

Pressing is another method of preserving flowers to use on pictures, stationary, place cards, etc. Most foliage and simple flowers with few petals, such as pansies, press well.

To press, place plant materials between layers of an absorbent paper material and apply weight or pressure for at least five to 10 days or until the plants are dried. Newspapers, telephone directories, blotter paper or tissues are good examples of different absorbent papers to use; however, plant presses are also available. After the first week, check the paper for excess moisture, and replace the paper if necessary.

For more information on drying flowers for decoration, contact your county Extension office.